An Informational Town Hall meeting on Medical Cannabis was held on November 8. 2015 in Alexandria, Ky sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Campbell County Post 3205 Auxiliary and Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. Having given the keynote speech at that event I was surprised and somewhat curious when immediately afterward the opponents of marijuana legalization organized and held one on December 1, 2015. The ‘Marijuana Summit’ was published as giving both sides of the issue.
I attended the event. They offered a ‘Legislative Breakfast’ and all our local legislators were there. They seemed to be very close with the organizers of the event. During breakfast Mr. Tony Coder, the Assistant Director of Drug Free Action Alliance, presided over a lively discussion of the issues. Senator Perry Clark, who attended, responded to the notion that since we already have a heroin problem we don’t need to legalize another drug. Ignoring the obvious attempt to link heroin with marijuana Senator Clark pointed out the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of a 25% drop in opioid drug overdose deaths in states that have medical cannabis programs and that that percentage is increasing.
The response was a change of subject.
I was struck by the snarky way Mr. Coder regaled us with the story of him breaking California law and lying to obtain a medical marijuana card to prove how easy it was to get one. At this point I was able to get a word in and posed him this query.
California has had medical marijuana since 1996. You say that’s a scam and Californians can access marijuana any time they want. Ok, I’ll give you that, (when I said that he looked surprised, then I continued), however that means the citizens of California have had easy access to marijuana for 20 years. You have to answer this. Where are the bodies? Where are all the bad things you all say will happen if marijuana is legalized?
Another change of subject.
Mr. Coder repeated his easy access claim during the next session on marijuana prohibition history. I quickly pointed out that he proves my point.
Change of subject.
The 3rd session was a speech by Mr. Ed Shemelya, the National Coordinator for the National Marijuana Initiative, a retired police officer who worked extensively with the High Intensity Drug Task Force and gives speeches for a living. He did point out, among a load of numbers that if 2 of the 6 states that will have legalization on the ballot pass it in 2016 it is, as he put it, “all over folks!”
Oh I wish it were true!
I had to leave at the halfway point. The first session after lunch was about hemp which is legal and really only a problem for the helicopter eradication program. The last was about the last 2 Monitoring the Future surveys concerning teen access and use which has not changed significantly with legalization. The interesting thing here is that with the exception of medical need supervised by a Doctor, no State has or will legalize marijuana for anyone under 21, so it’s really a moot point.
They always come back to protecting the children. I wonder? Marijuana has been used by women for menstrual cramps and morning sickness for 4000 years. In all that time there is no anecdotal evidence of birth defects or problems in birth resulting from marijuana use during pregnancy. Given the role we now know the cannabinoid system plays in maintaining good health and the fact of marijuana’s zero toxicity, one can envision a future in which ones Cheerios come, “fortified with THC for your protection”.
The ‘Marijuana Summit’, although misguided was certainly sincere, however we would be better served by them joining in as legalization comes and helping to craft effective policy rather than opposing it completely and having no say in the policy eventually enacted.